About Lastours Castle
The Châteaux de Lastours are four so-called Cathar castles in the French commune of Lastours in the département of l’Aude. The four castles are on a rocky spur above the village of Lastours. Cabaret, Surdespine and La Tour Régine stand in line, while Quertinheux is built on a separate pinnacle close by.
These four castles constitute a single entity, even though they are not a single structure. The natural layout of the site permitted the economy of a fortress of great height. Plans were adapted to the rocks on which they were built. The construction of each is different reflecting the range of alterations made to the castles.
Probably only three castles were built in the 11th century and their sites evolved over the years following demolition and successive rebuilding.
The four castles are on the top of a crest on a north-south axis: Cabaret, Tour Régine, Surdespine and Querthineux. They controlled the principal access routes into the Cabardès and the Montagne Noire regions.
Cabaret castle is the main citadel with a barbican defence system. It consists of a north tower, a polygonal keep in the south and a group of residential buildings in the centre. The whole is surrounded by ramparts with a round walk.
The Tour Régine, closest to Cabaret, is the most recent fortress and the smallest. It consists of a round tower, surrounded by a small curtain wall which has collapsed. Below ground, the tower contains the largest cistern of the four castles. The tower has three storeys and is flanked by a spiral staircase. The white limestone used is identical to that at Cabaret. It is thought that this tower was built after the Albigensian Crusade: the name (Régine = Royal) suggests as much and there is no written evidence of its existence prior to 1260.
Surdespine is the least preserved of the four. On the highest part of the site, it consists of a square tower, a house and a cistern. A rectangular curtain wall gives protection. It is noted for the rarity of its murder holes and its four semicircular arched windows.
The Quertinheux castle is furthest south along the crest on an isolated rocky outcrop. It consists of a circular tower and a polygonal curtain wall. A chicane defends the entrance. It overlooks the remains of a destroyed Romanesque church.
The site has been classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1905.